"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.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Simplify My Home Challenge and Dishcloth Swap

First of all, I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!!   However,  2014, is just around the
corner....... after all its Christmas in just a couple of days and the New Year is only a week afterwards........ so I'm already beginning to think of ways to get my home more organised, 

simplified, user friendly and enjoyable, all at the same time.  A house should always be a home.... one that you enjoy being in, and one where you can easily get the mundane jobs done quickly to allow time for the fun activities :)  So  I'm looking to set  myself a challenge to get my home in order in a manner that allows me to also have other areas of my life organised..... does that make sense??  For instance, its useful to me to have all the lunches and snacks sorted into small containers ready for the week........ but not if I have to hunt through all my cupboards to find the right size and the right lid!!!   .  I think it would be even more fun to have others come and join in with me in this challenge (and have a few swaps along the way even??)  It's a challenge that will last the year through in order to arrive right at this point next year!   And since there will be quite a bit of cleaning, sorting and rearranging going on, maybe we should start off with a dishcloth swap.  If you would like to join in, then add your name and blog in the comments under this post,  then take a copy of the little pic and add it to your sidebar with a link back to here, so you can easily keep track of where we are up to with our challenge.  I will be working out how to do the linky thingy so that we can all visit one another to see how things are going.  The dishcloth swap will form part of the challenge, but is not mandatory to taking part in the challenge,  and is open to  everyone around the world.  You will need to have 3 homemade dishcloths ready to post out by the  31st Jan, and maybe a nice coffee, tea or chocolate etc to go with them.
Closing date for the dishcloth swap will be the 20th January, the challenge continues all year (2014 that is lol).  Don't forget if you are taking part in the challenge copy my pic onto your sidebar and help spread the word.
Hugs Sharm

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Reducing Debts

Reducing debts is always welcome no matter who you talk to!  For us the past month has been very stressful as after 3 1/2 yrs we finally managed to sell the house in Townsville (far North Australia ) . We sold up don where & moved up there for a lifestyle change that after just 9 months was evident it was NOT working, so we put the house up for auction, came back here, purchased the little cottage we now live in and waited for the house to get sold at auction......which didn't happen as the market crashed, and kept crashing, and even with tenants that didn't cover the full mortgage, or rates, or repairs or repairing damage from tenants........but finally, and yes with a substantial loss, the house up there is sold!!! Settlement has gone through and I feel such a sense of relief!!!  We are back to one mortgage, a couple of credit cards that were used to keep our heads above water over the past couple of years ( thanks to the tenants from hell for that extra few thousand dollars with of expense).  So now we will be able to concentrate on getting this mortgage down, down and down!!!  So now, I can get back to doing things again, my apologies that I have been so quiet, but then perhaps nobody notices when I don't blog anyhow LOL.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Springtime around the Cottage

Incase you hadn't noticed, Spring is in the air around here.  I've been madly weeding garden beds which seem to have way more weeds than they should. 
The fruit trees are in bloom and looking fantastic.  I just pray we get some good crops to be able to make up lots of jam and preserves to last us the next year through!  This year I've also put in some raspberry canes, 2 of which do not seem to be doing quite as well as the others, but we shall just wait a tad longer and see.  This was the garden bed I started up last year by laying down the newspaper, compost and hay over the grass and then planting some potatoes to keep building up the soil and getting something in return while I was busy building this bed.................. so now we have lovely soil, instead of clay and I have raspberries that will, we hope end up producing rather well!

One of the little pekin girls (Grace), is busy sitting on some eggs.  Since I don't have any roosters here, I was lucky to get 6 lovely fertile eggs from a friend.  She should be hatching these out a week before our grandchildren are due to arrive from the northern part of Australia........ a 3 -4 day drive down here to us!

I'm sure it must be just as busy around your own cottages and homesteads no matter if you are in spring or Autumn, depending on where you are living!

We've just started picking our podded peas and it looks like we have a lovely crop...... though still not enough to be able to give a years supply with the amount we go through here.  Well time for me to go and pod some of these peas ready for dinner tonight and get a little bit of handiwork done.
Hugs Sharm

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Making the Floor Mats

Some of you have asked if I would give a little "how to" for the floor mats I made up last weekend.  Well, first of all I have to give most of the credit to a good penfriend of mine.... Lyn Sheppard,
 who actually makes something similar and so this is how I got the idea.  Since I have lots of old bath towels I really would like to use them up rather than just throw them out..... hence the idea.

So first of all grab yourself an old bath towel and cut in half, this will be the back of your mat and you will sew your scraps directly onto it.
Grab some scrap fabrics that you want to use and line the first one up with any edge of the towel and sew it down.

Keep adding material scraps to each piece you sew down - I iron over a little hem before I sew it down so I don't have any raw edges on top, but you could choose to have the raw edges up and zig zag over them instead.  Just keep adding scraps until the whole towel is covered on one side.

Now cut some material for binding the edges - I used some black checked gingham and cut them 3 inches wide.  I ironed over a hem along one edge and sewed it to the back first, then folded it over to the front, making sure I folded it under so no raw edge showed and sewed it down!  Voila!  all done and ready to use!  Best of all they are quick to make up, easy to wash and dry and look rather nice!  If you need something else explained just ask away.  Hugs Sharm

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Friday Night Sew In

Last night was the Friday Night Sew in hosted by Wendy from Sugarlane Quilts .   It's held every 3rd Friday of the month

 and this time since I needed to get things made for our home as opposed to gifts, I decided it would be good to post about it here on The 7 Pillars Home blog so that others following here might be able to make these simple mats as well. 

We have finally had to start throwing out our floor mats (which I inherited from my grandmother a number of years ago), that are just plain worn out and thanks to my friend Lyn who told me she sews together scraps to make her floor mats, well, that's what I have done.  Since I seem to have quite an abundance of old towels I cut one in half and made a nice good sized floor mat to put in front of the kitchen sink!

I was pleased with how it turned out so I got started on a mat for our dog Scruffy. For this one I cut up a flannelette pillow case I don't plan on using, to put in with the other bits.  Scruffy loves to sit on a mat right next to Pete's chair, I'm sure it's just so he can get a scratch on the head every so often LOL  Anyhow, I got it finished and called out to him to see what Mr Scruffy thought about it??  Well, I barely got it down on the ground in the designated spot next to the chair when he was straight onto it...............checked it out
 Approval received!  Guess its a winner!!

I'll be making more of these mats, so quick & easy and I just edged them with some black gingham. 
Also last night I wanted to get my ripple rug finished off.  Its one I've been making so I can use it on the cold evenings sitting watching TV or reading or such. 
Some of the wools that have been used have come from internet friends in parts of  Australia, US, Canada and Alaska which makes it kind of special to me :)  It got put on hold not so long ago as I needed to get a Beanie made up for my Son for his birthday
and then a I had my first attempt at a pair of fingerless gloves for my DIL birthday.
They will be coming down this way in a few weeks for a visit and I have no doubt they will feel the cold!!

So thanks to FNSI I managed to get a couple of much needed items for our home completed! 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

August is Here Already!

Wow, how time flies by at times! Have you noticed that as well?  I've been kept just a tad busy the last couple of weeks as I decided I needed a bit if assistance to loose a few kilos and gain back a bit of health and fitness.  In the process of signing up for a 12 wk program through the Michelle Bridges on line 12WBT, I have come across a wonderful bunch of other ladies around my age who are also trying to improve their health & fitness.  I've been busy printing out some wonderful recipes and healthy tips all of which will of course be placed in the Homestead Binder which I've talked about setting up previously.... 

 Now for me, all of this has to fit in with my life around our little 1/3 acre homestead....so part of the exercise program for me is going to have to incorporate gardening!  See how the peas have grown...not long now before we can start picking!  Somehow we have ended up with this little purple one.......I'm waiting to see if it turns out to be a purple podded  pea??  We had those a few years back..yum!
The girls have been enjoying today, which has turned out lovely and sunny, nice change after all the rain we've been having!  These are my 8 girls who work hard for their keep!  They are expected to turn over soil, provide fertiliser  and eggs, keep down bugs and provide comic relief!
In turn they seem to enjoy themselves and have taken a special liking to the old cane cat carrier that has been turned into a nesting box for them
They can thank Pete ( my wonderful Hubbie) for the great sawdust which he collected on a tarp while sawing up wood for the wood heater we have!
Since I last chatted with you, we have had our bedroom wall extended out to the edge of the eaves which has given us a wardrobe!!!   All the clothes have been moved into it and hopefully during the next week or two, it will get some sliding doors!  Pete picked up a couple of mirror doors for nothing, so hoping they fit.....if not, guess Ill be making a curtain LOL
Well, I best get to some crochet I need to get finished, and I can hear the kookaburras have arrived for their evening feed we put out....
... Have a blessed Sunday evening and a wonderful week ahead!
hugs, Sharm

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Homestead Supplies: laundry liquid

Well the rain is pouring down here today, so no outside work is going to get done!  However my supply of laundry liquid is getting low, and I have to admit that working close to full time march to mid June, I ended up having to buy lots of washing powder.  I just didn't have the extra time, or energy, or maybe I was just in one of those ruts of " I don't care" mode.......until that is, the shopping docket made me sit up and gasp!   Turns out laziness can be an expensive habit!!!!  So, time to get out the pure soap and get it grated up.   I'm using some of own plain soap, otherwise use velvet soap or a pure soap.
You want to grate up 1/2 cup into small bits.... Bigger bits take forever to melt down.  If you grate up more you can store it in a jar so you have it already to use for next time, and it looks kinda nice in the glass jar!
So stick the grated soap into a large pot over heat..... Today mine was done on the wood heater, where i have my kettle sitting during the winter months, to save using any electricity.  Add 1 1/2 cups of boiling water and stir the soap flakes until they are dissolved.  If they are not properly dissolved then your liquid will separate later.  Once completely dissolved, add 1/2 cup each of washing soda and borax. (Now if you have a grey water system set up going out to the veggies, then omit the borax).  

Add another cup and a half of boiling water and keep on stirring until its all dissolved.  Now we are ready to pour this mixture into 1 large, or equally into 2 smaller buckets to which we add hot water (from the tap). To make up to 9litres in total.  

At this stage I like to put my buckets aside to cool down and begin the setting process ( today, that means out in the cold LOL ).  If use more soap, or less water, you will get a thicker gel.  Just remember that if you plan on being able to pour the liquid from the bottles, you don't want a really thick gel (but you do use a little more in each wash).  In other words, the thicker the gel, the lesser amount you use in the load of washing.
Before they cool down I like to add some essential oil to give a nice smell to my washing....today it happens to be lemon.  Usually I like to use apple, but apparently I'm all out of apple, so lemon it is! When you are happy with the consistency, you are ready to bottle it up.  Using a funnel helps with the bottling process and don't forget to label your bottles so everybody knows what it is AND how much to use.  For this recipe I find 1/4 cup works well, but add more for heavier loads.

I leave a bit of room at the top of each of my bottles so I can give it a good shake before using.  Now that  works out to less than $1 per bottle, and I know exactly what is in it!!!  Print this out and stick it in your binder.   Now im off to do a bit of crochet!     Hugs,  Sharm

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Your Own Homestead Binder

Remember the homestead binder I mentioned yesterday?  It's a great tool in a road to simplicity and you don't have to have a house on a hundred acres for it to work!  You can also call it whatever you want to.  We live on a large quarter acre block in the country, and because of how we utilise our block, I like to think of our house as a little homestead.  After all, it's all just a matter of how you look at things.

So gather up your supplies........ A 2 ring binder (cover it to reflect something you enjoy), some divider sheets, paper and a pen.......oh, and if you have those plastic dividers like I do, a pair of long nose tweezers sure helps to get the paper tags into them......
Keep it simple........ 7 dividers each marked pillar 1 to 7.  I printed out a photo or picture onto a sheet as a header page for each pillar, and it also gives me a mini "chapter" reference guide for what I can expect to find in each pillar........   Like this.....
And this.......

You can find a basic list of what is under each pillar on the section of this blog that refers to them.  Now sometimes you already have a kind of a folder started that is a bit of this and a bit of that, and you might wonder how in the world you can get those into pillar headings.......... Soooooo, keep it simple, write out your headings one under the other on some scrap paper, then pop an arrow beside those headings with what they might refer to, and then you will suddenly discover they fit under one of the pillars......... Something like this.......
Now, I really like to have a section that is just devoted to the kitchen..... It covers menu planning, which tells me the types of foods I can grow, and of course that leads to preserving etc etc...... But in reality, that all comes down to organisation ......hmmmmmm, so, Pillar 3!   See how it works.
I do however keep the plastic pages that hold the various business cards right at the front of the binder for easy access.   So there you have it,  gradually add things into your binder under each of the headings and enjoy having it all together in one place that is easy to access and easy to store.
Hugs, Sharm

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Simple Things

I don't know about you, but it's the simple things in life that I seem to get so much pleasure from, like these flowers that I just picked from my front garden...... The one that runs along beside the gravel driveway leading to our front verandah......... Come on in and have a cuppa with me...... The lovely little cow whistling kettle is sitting atop my wood fire at the ready....
Hahn, that cuppa is great after being out doing some of the weeding!  I have a saucepan on the stove with some diced meat in getting it nice and tender for my beef burgundy pie I'm making for dinner.  The recipe is here on my blog under the recipe tab if want to give it a go.  It's quite simple and always seems to be a hit!    There is just something really appealing about living a simplified life, but simple does not necessarily mean that work and organisation does not come into play!  The flowers did not grow by themselves..... I had to plant them, well, actually I had to dig a garden bed first of all, then consider what I wanted growing there as people entered the house (us included), and I wanted to have something in that bed flowering that would give joy during each of the seasons ( which meant having a couple of different things planted ).   
My homestead binder is another essential item that helps to keep things around here simplified....
My binder has sections as you might remember from earlier posts, it also has a plastic page that holds business cards, or any other type of card that is of that size.  Anything to do with the household & homestead, I try to keep here so that it is all in a central place!  Simple, easy to use, easy to file, easy to store!  You just have to set it up........ Maybe we can work on doing that tomorrow if you would like to.  Enjoy the rest of your day,    Hugs, Sharm

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Winner of the little giveaway

For some reason I pressed the wrong button on the iPad and deleted this post from a couple of days ago, so I am reporting it!    The winner of the giveaway of the apron and crocheted dishcloth is Shez.  From.  http://www.shez-enjoying life.blogspot.com.   All entries from both Facebook & the blog were put together into a dish and dear daughter pulled out the winner!   Please contact me shez by email. sharmshere@yahoo.com   To give me your address so I can post this off to you.  Hugs sharm


I used my cake batter receipe, the throw it all in together & beat it up one,   Then melted a bit of chocolate in one bowl, heated up some of my home made plum jam in another and then swirled them both through the uncooked batter and popped them in the oven......this was the result! It was really quite yummy and needed no icing and came out of the oven in time to serve to visitors on Sunday arvo.  So if you need a quick cake and know you won't have time to ice it, then this works a treat!    I will pop the one bowl cake receipe into the receipe list later today .   It's one of those that you can change to make it either a chocolate, vanilla, coffee, etc and has been received very well for the past 29 yrs!!!     Hugs. Sharm

Monday, July 8, 2013

A little giveaway

So today  my bible reading took me to Proverbs 3:9     Which seemed to just scream.... The 7 pillars home.  It made me remember how blessed I am to have all the things I have, home and family, and after my close call last week, even more so.  I'm thankful for the friendships that have been made with all you guys and so I thought I would get out some fabric and make up one of my aprons, and crochet up one of my dishcloths to use as a giveaway.  All you need do is leave a comment here or on the Facebook page telling me what one of the 7 home making pillars are (hint: you can see them here on this blog on the separate page).  If you share this on your own blog or FB please let me know so you can get a 2nd chance in the drawer.  The giveaway closes on 14th July 2013 and is open to everyone.

Hugs,  sharm

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The soughdough Starter

If anybody watched the first episode of river cottage Australia, you will know they made a sourdough starter.  Well I've decided to fly with the idea of beginning a starter here to celebrate a fresh start ( and the gift of a lucky survival thanks to God looking out for me with that steel beam).  My starter is just a little different from the river cottage one which used whole meal, spelt & rye flours......... Instead I have used what I already have on hand........ Whole meal, buckwheat, and plain old white flours.  I expect it will take between 5 - 10 days to be ready, and of course it is winter down in this part of the world right now, with some very frosty mornings!  Why not join me in making up a starter so we can begin baking the odd loaf together.    You can head over to river cottage to get the full directions and the recipe for making the loaf, but basically you start with a cup of 3 lots of flour, mixing with enough water to form a soft dough, then cover with a damp teatowel and leave in a warm place...... You will need to add to it each day and I do hear that it is better not to use any metal when doing it, although I can't be sure of that.  Leave me a message if you plan to have a go at this with me!

Monday, July 1, 2013

A literal Hit over the Head!

After all the extra work I was called in to do at the hospital, I found myself slipping further and further behind on things here on our little quarter acre homestead.  Gardens are full of weeds, plants and trees not tended to, baking replaced by processed supermarket substances.........  I realised that my stresses and our costs of living have increased substantially during these past 3 months of close to full time work.  I took the dog for a lovely walk down along the river yesterday morning thinking I need to get back on track somehow........

Well, I did begin digging the front garden over when hubbie needed a hand to "hold this pole so I can see how this carport would fit"........  The carport that was purchased for a house we were renovating, but it didn't end up going in and made the 3 day move to our next house up in Townsville ( our lifestyle change which lasted 9 months), and then it came the 3 days back to this house.........where it looks like It will finally go up..........   Except it managed to come apart and fall onto my head yesterday afternoon........   I must have been blessed with a hard head.... No cuts, no fracture. And after a brain scan, there is no sign of a bleed either....... I did have quite the headache as you might imagine!

Well, the mighty bump over the head has made me remember my priorities and thank God for His blessings, to get back to turning our house into a home, using those 7 pillars, and making it a place that provides so much for our family.
The lovely steel beam that decided to land on my head when it fell from the pole......

Monday, June 24, 2013

The ripple is growing....

My very first go at making a ripple afghan seems to be coming along quite ok.  I'm using wool that has either been sitting in my stash or came via some swaps... The green is from my penpal group swap last year, the very lovely burgundy angora was from a yarn group swap & came from Alaska so I feel I am crocheting with friends :).  Anyhow though you might like a bit of a peek at it......

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Some of my recycled treasures

I can't believe I haven't posted on here since January!  My apologies, as the 7 pillars also has a face book page & I guess at some point it became easier  and quicker to upload photos there!  In fact with it being so long, there might not be anyone left here still checking in. LOL. Am I just talking to myself then??? Perhaps, but oh we'll, that's ok too I guess.
I thought I'd pop in a couple of photos of some of the treasures around our house that have been rescued from old sheds and houses that were being demolished.  Pete was told he could burn, bury or take away......... So some stuff comes home and gets some TLC and becomes a useable treasure....
The pie safe which has all my preserves, soaps, seeds, spare jars.  The table was built especially for us from a large gum that Pete had to take down when roads were being built some years ago.  The chairs were also handmade by an old fellow in his 80's at that time.

This was being used as an old chicken incubators when pete found it, and fixed it up...... The blue bottles have also been finds from various times..... Now it lives in our bathroom.

This lovely old writing desk just fits into our tiny bedroom  and gets used for storage since I can't fit a chest of drawers into our bedroom.