Friday, February 25, 2022

A New Season and a Change of Plans

   


     A couple of weeks ago, I woke up and didn't want coffee.  That has only happened twice in my adult life.  Can you guess what would cause this very unusual sensation???

   If you guessed "baby", you would be correct!  Colton and I are very happy to be expecting Baby #3 in October! 

  My nausea seems to be less with each pregnancy, for which I am extremely grateful.  However, it is still quite unpleasant, and while I thought to announce a break, I know that after I came back, it would just be followed by more breaks.

  I know my blogging has been on again/off again, and that was never my intention as I set out (each time).  But the truth of the matter is that I am in a very busy season of my life, and I have come to the conclusion that the best thing for me right now is to say "goodbye". Not only is my current season a busy one, it is also very beautiful and fleeting.  I don't want to miss any of it (although it would be ok if we fast forwarded through the nausea)!  I hope you will understand and forgive such an abrupt end.  It is, at least, a happy ending.

  I enjoyed having my little blog, as short-lived as it was, and I really appreciate those of you who have left comments, given encouragement, and followed along.  I wish you all the best in your frugal homemaking endeavors, and hope we may perhaps meet at another place in Blog Land. 

With love,

Kelsey 




Friday, February 04, 2022

Every Part of the Buffalo

     It all started with a packet of licorice that a friend gave to John.  Just as he finished the last piece and I was about to throw the bag away, I thought, "What really cute packaging.  It seems a shame to throw this away.  I wonder if there is something else I could store in it for a while."  Laugh if you will.

    Then I was reminded of when I was in high school, there was a trend where the girls started carrying purses that were made of empty, sewn together Kool-Aid pouches.  Alas, I never had one.  But this got my wheels turning.  I turned to Pinterest to see if this was still a thing.  It is.  I even saw some totes made out of plastic coffee bags.

    Then I remembered that a while back I had pinned a tutorial for a tote made out of a chicken feed sack.  Perfect!  I go through plenty of chicken feed sacks.  In my excitement, I started telling Colton about Kool-Aid purses and feed sack totes.  He was smiling (sort of), but I could tell he was questioning my sanity.

    "You want me to start saving trash?"

    "Well, just the feed sacks."

    "So you can make bags."

    "Yes."

    He shook his head and laughed and asked what he was going to do with me.  I told him that he was going to love me forever.  He agreed.

    But not without sarcastically saying, "Because we use every part of the buffalo in this household."

    We had a good laugh about it and he teased me a bit more (and I'm still going to make those feed sack totes).  The funny thing is that we have started to seriously adopt that saying.  Now I am not advocating saving worthless trash.  That is a good way to end up on an episode of Hoarders.  But we are trying to look at cutting back on waste and seeing if there is a way to get more use out of things before tossing them.  (The key is that is does actually have to be useful or beneficial and worth my time, otherwise it's just clutter.)  It is one more way to stretch those hard-earned dollars, which is becoming more and more necessary as we see the price of just about everything going up!  It also puts into effect one of my favorite sayings:

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

    So this week, in keeping with my Unfinished Project theme, I went through my mending basket, in which I not only have mending, but also old clothes that are past saving.  They may no longer be wearable, but I can still pull them apart for materials! 

    I had three sleepers that James had outgrown, but not before he wore holes in the knees.  I harvested the zippers out of them (they are very long, but zippers can be shortened) and cut rectangles out of the biggest parts of the fabric.  I serged the edges and now I have three soft baby washcloths. 



    Another thing I had in my project stack was this box. 



    This is what I bought when Colton sent me into Sam's Club by myself while he stayed in the car with the sleeping children.  I am not responsible for my actions when left unsupervised in the seasonal goody section and there is European chocolate.  They will get me.

    Once  we had eaten all of the cookies, I was about to throw the box away when, if you can believe it, Mr. You-Want-Me-To-Start-Saving-Trash said, "Are you sure you want to throw that away?  It's a good box."

    He was right.  It was just like those decorative boxes they sell at the craft store.  It even had a magnetic closure.  I made it over into this using what I had on hand:




    So basically, if you want to think of it this way, it was like buying a decorative box at the craft store, only this was cheaper and it came with cookies.  Thank you, Colton.

    Have you ever saved anything from the trash to turn it into something useful?  


  

    

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Goals for 2022

     Here we are already at the end of the first month of the year!  I know I am lagging behind, but better late than never!

    Despite the hardships of the last year, I think it is always good to take stock of all of the good things that happened, too.  We can look back and reflect on all of God's blessings and see the year as a whole.  One of the big things in our home was seeing James grow in his first year of life and watching our family relationships blossom.  This was SO good!  

    We also made good memories going on our first family vacation.  We traveled across the country to visit my Grandma, which I did every summer as a kid.  It was so good to relive those childhood memories but this time with my husband and children!  It was such a fun adventure.

    Of course, not everything is a big momentous occasion.  There is so much beauty in the little everyday things- snuggles and giggles with children, quiet moments with my husband, countless meals shared around the table, excellent coffee and conversation shared with a friend, watching the little antics of our animals, seeing the garden progress each day and sharing excitement over new sprouts or the first fruits- so many of these ordinary things are huge blessings if we really stop and look.

    The new year is also a great time to set goals, revisit our budget and routines, and think about the things we'd like to accomplish or change.  Some people like to have a sort of "theme" for the year. 

     In thinking over everything, I have decided that 2022 is going to be my Year of Finishing Unfinished Projects!

    This is really sort of twofold, maybe even threefold.  I'd like to finish the projects I've started, or gathered, while using (mostly) the things I already have.  So this will save money too, which is also a goal this year.  That is always a goal, really, but fresh budget sheets make me want to attack it with new fervor.  😉

    I know in my craft post I talked about closing the gap between accumulating supplies and using those supplies.  I am going to continue with this, but it won't stop at crafting!  I have also gathered quite a few books and many of them I still haven't read yet.  So I will focus more on reading those books and slow down on buying new ones.  It is the same with recipes!  I have so many recipe books and recipes pinned on Pinterest.  It's time to try those out!  I have a basket full of clothes that need mending, so that will be tackled before buying new clothes.  I hope I am not making it sound like I am a hoarder- I promise it is not that dire!  But I look around and see things that need to be done and need to be used, and instead of adding to that list, I'm going to be ticking things off.  This will also include organization and deep cleaning in the home, as well as maintaining the things we already have.

    There will, however, be a few "new" outdoor projects added in regards to our little homestead.  We have some big news in that the home we have been living in and the acre it sits on have been transferred over to Colton.  Colton's grandfather is still living with us, and out of respect for him, we are not making many changes to the interior.  But we now have the freedom to do whatever we please with the outside, so some of the homesteading projects we have been dreaming of are able to become reality!  I will share more on that throughout the year as we make progress.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful new year!  Do you have any plans or goals you'd like to share?  I'd love to hear from you!

New Beginnings


    

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Pressing On

     


     Hello, everyone!

    I want to thank those of you who have checked on me during my absence.  The last months of 2021 were quite hard on me, with the death of a loved one and a few other unrelated (but very serious) circumstances.  It seemed like they just came one after another, and while I meant to announce a blogging break, I just couldn't find a way to word it.

    I do apologize for such sporadic posts.  Life happens, and the online world is the first thing to take a back seat when things turn south or I simply get busy.  Thank you for bearing with me.

    Things have settled, and our family is doing well.  

    Because of the aforementioned circumstances, it was very difficult to be motivated for the new year as I usually am.  I don't mean to sound so doom-and gloom, but sometimes that's just the way things are!  The turning of a calendar page would not alter any of the hardships I was facing but rather be a continuation of them.

    Nevertheless, the calendar page does turn, and we must press on.  I suppose we all go through times like these, and I see it more and more the older I get.  It would be easy to succumb, I do confess.  

    But I have a Comforter, and therein lies the key.  If we press on towards the mark, if we keep our eyes upon Jesus, if we can hope in eternity and look at things through a biblical lens, the fog lifts and things get much clearer.  We have a purpose, as I have written before, that goes beyond our circumstances.  And so I enter 2022, not necessarily with excitement, but with resolve and renewed strength, knowing that Jesus will guide me through it.

    As for this little blog,  I have so many posts swirling through my mind (not gloomy ones, don't worry!), but I think I have learned by now not to make any promises about regularity despite the best of intentions (*ahem* monthly craft posts).  I hope to add more soon!

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