"Wisdom has built her House, she has hewn out her Seven Pillars" Proverbs 9:1
I look forward to having you come join me as we work to turn our houses into homes.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Changing Diets

After having to have my health reviewed due to some long term stress, eating as I shouldn't have been and having my back have a little attack............ well, it was time to review just what I've been doing to my body (and no doubt my family's bodies) over the past 12 months.  It hasn't come about "suddenly" - it's been a slip here and a convenience there -  you know how it goes!  (And I wonder why I've put on weight that's hard to get rid of and feel so run down!)

So I'm currently doing an about face with our diets.  It's a matter of taking on board one of the Pillars that God gave me for creating and maintaining a home.......... Pillar 4 - "Good Health"!
It's back to cutting out as much of the processed, chemically based foods out of our diet as possible and replacing them with whold foods!  

Cooking from scratch is something I usually embrace, so I'm back to looking at just what I'm including in our diet, looking at baking that incorporates better food choices rather than just flour and sugar.  I've also been cutting out grains some days of the week after morning tea time.
Chocolate Mud Cake made with Pumpkin Meal

I've just tried a new receipe - Chocolate Mud Cake - no flour, instead it uses pumpkin meal!  I've also got a banana bread almost ready to come out of the oven made with Almond Meal instead of flour! 

Of course, having your own backyard hens comes in very helpful when you are using a few eggs - and I know what they are fed, and when the eggs are collected!!!   With the shift back to whole foods, the Fruit Trees, vines, and vegetable gardens will be playing a very major role (as it should be).  And since I'm also adding seeds to our diet............. it seems I'm going to have to make room for a number of sunflowers and extra pumkins LOL

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Reduce your Cash outflow

I think most of us are trying to reduce the amount of cash we outlay these days, and dare I even mention the word credit card!   Another reason for upskilling your homemaking is so you can use those skills in more than one way! 

Last Friday I had to make a trip into town to have treatment on my back again.  I'd already been on the Tuesday, but since I'd done so much damage, it really did need another treatment!  At just over $60 per treatment I decided to I would try somthing out............ after all, nothing ventured is nothing gained :)  So I headed off to town with a dozen of my eggs, a number of soaps, lip balms, candle melts and one of my jars of furniture conditioner (all made here at home by me, with the exception of the eggs............ although hubbie tends to think I sometimes mimick the chooks!!)
I'm pleased to say that the Osteo was happy to accept a couple of various products which made up to just over half the amount of the cost of the appointment, so my "cash" outlay was just $28.  Then I had to head to the health food outlet to purchase a kilo of almond meal - which was exchanged for some soaps and candle melts........... no cash outlay

After a few quick errands, I felt it was time to grab a coffee to have on my 45 min drive home...... barter of 1 dozen eggs for 1 large latte!      I have to tell you, I do so love the barter system!  

Just a hint...... use the smaller stores where you can get to know the shop owners - they have needs (and wants), like all of us and are often very happy to have home grown or home made products - ask them, after all the worst they can do is say no!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Over the Kitchen Counter

Grab yourself a hot cuppa and come sit at the kitchen bench with me............ Since we're in the Kitchen, let's talk kitchen today.
So much time in a womans life seems to be spent in this little area of the home...... cooking, preparing, cleaning up, preserving, baking.  It's an area that is a core part of our homes - we need it to work well, but there are really not that many of us who get to design how are kitchens are built.   Rather than dwell on the basic layout of it today...... let's look at putting our own touch on it. 
I have the feeling I may not be the only one with a stash of material..........     So this idea kind of helps a few areas...... it helps to declutter the material stash, use up what you have , provide yourself with a useable item for the kitchen, and the possiblity of making extras that can work as gifts.......... Oh and did I mention it doesn't take much to make!

Pot holders!  I like to have a few on hand so I can throw them into the washing and know I have othes there to take its place!  I also want them to add a bit of "sunshine" or "interest" to my kitchen - and most of all - I don't want to pay  a ridiculous price for them!!!

Have a look through your material stash and pick out some fabric you like - I use a pattern for the front and a plain fabric for the back (the back will fold over the front at the edges).  Before I ended up with a fabric stash, I used to cut up our old clothing that was no longer wearable - I'd throw out the worn sections and keep the good pieces, as well as any buttons and zippers etc.  Check out the op shops or thrift stores too - as they often have sheeting that can be used.  You will also need some wadding to go inside.

I cut my front (patterned) section  7 1/2 inches wide x 8 1/2in long.  My plain backing piece is cut 9 1/2in wide x 10 1/2 in long.  I use 2 pieces of wadding to make a good thickness - but it will depend on what you have or are able to get - just go by feel, remembering you will be picking up hot pots with them!  Cut the wadding to the same size as the front section.  I use 1 piece of iron on wadding which I attach to the wrong side of the patterned fabric, and then I have another piece of wadding which the shop tells me is "heat resistant" wadding.  I also cut this the same size as the front.

Lay out your backing fabric with right side down on the table, put the heat resistant wadding in the middle of it and then add the top section (which has the iron on wadding attached). You want the right side of the front facing up at you.  

 Now begin to iron over the edges - fold the edge of the back to the edge of the front to just touch and then fold it over the top and iron & pin down.  Do this all the way around.  If you want to have a hanger you can either sew a little strip of matching fabric like I've done - or just use some ribbon (mine measures approx 6in in length and it then gets doubled over to place inside).  Place it inside one of the corners as you fold it in.

Now simply sew from edge to edge on each side and "Voila"!  I decided to make up a few of these so that I can put them aside for some christmas and birthday gifts.  If you like this idea, then either print it out , or make a note of it and place it in your homestead binder - label it under Pillar 7   in the gift giving section.

These 2 are definately for a gift and just way too cute I think :)   Have fun!
This post is linked in with: Homestead Barn Hop

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Starting a Vegie Patch from Scraps

Besides digging over an area of ground............ for which some areas may have wonderful soil,

Our Vegie garden in Bundalong - peas just planted in April this year
while others have something like clay or sand - what to do to get some vegies going when the budget is already stretched? 
 This is where I was at a number of years ago when we were living in the middle of suburbia in Brisbane.  We were behind on bills, small income, a family of 5 and trying to make ends meet was....... difficult!  Now difficult, even extremely difficult is NOT "impossible" - it does however, mean thinking around corners  at times.  I didn't have enough money to get sufficient groceries ........ ok, so I'll grow some food........... yep, bad soil, and no money to go buy a load in.......... that left, making my own soil!!  I sacraficed a bit of the budget and bought 4 "day old" hens (hens - not chicks as I wanted to know I was going to eventually get eggs - not just a lot of noise LOL).  These are the girls I have now, at our house here in Bundalong.  I feel quite blessed to be able to have hens as they take care of scraps, turn over the compost, keep their yard cleared and give me  manure, eggs, and lots of laughter!

  Making a compost heap is how you go about making soil to build your garden beds!  I've been doing it for years now and although it takes time, it certainly helps the finances!  I start with nothing at all fancy....... a spot in the yard where I can pile all the scraps.  I use whatever I can find to make a back and 2 sides to keep it all "somewhat contained".  Lawn mower clippings, torn up newspapers, cardboard, tissues, etc all go in.  If you have a wood fire, then when you clean it out - add the wood ash to the pile once cold.   As those little day old hens start making a mess - ie manure add that as well, including the wood shavings or straw they have dirtied.  As those hens grow bigger they will be very useful.  Remember to keep it moist (not wet) and turn it over with a garden fork to help everything break down - and before you know it, you'll end up with something like this.....

Inside my kitchen I keep a very small rubbish tidy that I put all my peelings and such into.  I have my compost bins in the same area as the chook yard at this house and the girls love pecking through it all and turning it over for me.

To get your garden bed going...............

First decide where you are going to have your plot and how big you want it to be..... mow the area over as close to the ground as you can and keep those mower clippings.

Time to gather some of your scraps!  Get those used  newspapers, any type of cardboard (cerial boxes, empty tissue boxes etc).   Lay them thickly over the ground and wet it all down.  Don't worry if you don't have enough to do the whole area now........ work on it with scraps as they come to hand.     Throw those mower clippings over the top.   If you have chickens - then clean out the pen and add that straw and droppings etc over the top of the grass clippings.  Now add your soil (this will be coming from the compost heap ).  I have also been known to just begin my gardens following the above steps, but the compost has been "made" right where I plan on having the garden bed.............. and it's worked just fine !
My current compost has 3 sections to it so I can turn stuff over into the next bin.

Potatoes are often a cheap and easy crop to start with............ we tend to use lots of potatoes around here, so I don't mind having them growing in several areas.

Potatoes growing from sprouted supermarket ones
The Peas in June this year

  In this garden bed - I popped in some potatoes that had sprouted in the bag from the supermarket............ I put them ontop of the layer of "soil", cover them with a bit more and then add a layer of straw.  As they begin to grow, I add more compost and straw........... sometimes mover clippings if that is all I have to use.  By the time the potato crop is ready for harvest I have a great vegie bed all built up that can be used for other crops!    I was lucky enough to have some logs given to me that Pete placed around the garden bed for me!  I also have often used seeds that I've kept from vegies all ready on hand like pumpkins, and sometimes tomatoes, cucumbers.  They don't always work, but when funds are limited it's worth trying.             

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Is it that close already?????

Sorry to be the one to tell you........... but Christmas is just over 11 weeks away!!!  How does it come around so quickly I wonder?  So if you haven't thought about it, or decided to try to put that thought aside for a while............ watch out, because it is creeping up.  So this seems like an ideal time to "Bring out the Household Binder
http://www.the7pillarshome.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/the-homestead-binder.html" again -

 this time we are turning to the section that deals with "gift giving".  Depending on how you have chosen to lay out your binder you may just have a section entitled gifts, or you may want to divide that up further to have a whole separate section devoted to Christmas that may include more than just gifts.  As you can see from the date - I made my cover sheet a couple of years ago when I decided to update it (and I should have left the date off). It was one I did up quickly using some christmas fabric and glue sticks.  Have some fun getting yourself ready for christmas by just making up your section divider, and before you know it  you'll be putting down all sorts of ideas!

Since I use "The 7 Household Pillars" as guides within my binder to help me keep focus on why I do things........ The Christmas Giving section goes in behind one of the Pillars.  In other words, the pillars are each made up of various building blocks which together form a pillar (a bit like brick and mortar make the brick pillars of buildings). For me, I like to have my christmas giving as part of Pillar 7 .........

I did have a couple of years where things were so hectic and we had interstate moves and such that I was no way near ready for Christmas until about 4 weeks after it was over!!   Now I don't make a "huge" deal over it - but I do like it to be a time where I can spread some joy and gifting without being stressed over it all.   I try to have a few little items put aside in a basket with little ribbons or such on them so that if someone pops in over that time and I want to give them a little something - I have it there on hand (maybe some home made jam, soaps, pincushion, crocheted dishcloth etc).  These are little items you can make up through out the year to have on hand (all year round - after all, they make good little birthday and thankyou gifts too).  I keep a copy of small patterns I might like to use for christmasy items in this section in order - it helps when you are trying to come up with ideas sometimes.

I'm also one of those old fashioned gals that still likes to use snail mail and has some penfriends scattered in various parts.............sooooo, I like to send out christmas cards.  Speaking of those - I see they are in the shops (yes, I should be making them, but alas - not this year).  So I will be purchasing some of those this coming week and begin getting them written in and addressed so they can all be ready to post out on the 1st December :)   If you are one who likes to do up a "christmas" family newsletter - why not start on that now - easy to save as you go and then it's ready just to print out and post (or email) at the start of December!

It's raining here today - so it's just perfect weather for working on some gifts......... Love Sharm

Monday, October 1, 2012

And the Winner Is...............

CONGRATS TO THE LUCKY WINNER...................... Ruth Millett, you have won the bundle of natural beeswax candle melts.    Please email me your details so I can get them sent off to you

sharmshere@yahoo.com   and don't forget to let me know if you have preferences!