Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hobo Bag Creation

 2 weeks ago, my Esther received a sewing basket full of goodies. She could hardly wait to get busy creating. Didn't matter what, exactly. She just want to make something, sew something, use her new tools and supplies!

Tucked into the bottom of her basket was a jelly roll. So we searched online for patterns that she could utilize some of those lovely strips.

She narrowed our search down to a purse or a bag, and we came upon a pattern for a hobo bag at Simplymodernmom. The mom that created the original pattern designed it for a dance bag for her little daughter. Esther used her idea and made it her own (not needing a dance bag but a purse/bag).

With only a little supervision and guidance from me, this is what she created. Really, she did 90% of the work! Great Job, Esther! (Now, if she'd only model it for me, so you could see how really great it works for her.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Hidden Art of Homemaking - Chapter 7

Flower Arranging

zinnias in a tiny pitcher on my windowsill
This week in The Hidden Art of Homemaking Book Study we are looking at the art of flowers, arrangements, centerpieces, creative ways to bring them into your home, your life.

I confess, at first I was a little put off, thinking Mrs. Schaeffer was expecting each of us to take a full-fledged course in the art and science of flower arranging. It wasn't long before I realized I had misjudged her. She actually shared many ideas about displaying and arranging, as well as the impact a bit of beauty might have on your family, your neighbor, yourself.
yellow and purple are lovely together, don't you think?
I adore flowers. (Daisies are my personal favorite) Flowers are a sure-fire way to bring a smile to my face, even tears to my eyes, and win me over for life. As I type up this post, I glance over at two little bouquets presented to me yesterday --  a fist full of golden dandelions surrounded by wild violets, and dainty bluebells and charming dutchman's breeches -- collected by my children while on a nature walk with Grandma. They are happily tucked into small juice glasses I grabbed from the kitchen cupboard.
wildflowers-bluebells and dutchman's breeches
A little sprig from the garden, a single bud from the florist, an inexpensive bouquet from the grocery store, even a greenery from the yard adds a touch of beauty and freshness to your surroundings. Taking just a moment, adding that special touch can transform the space and give it a 'finishing touch'.

I used to be in the habit of picking up a bunch of flowers when I did my grocery shopping. It was a small extravagance, but one I felt was worth it. Trying to stay within my monthly budget, I've let that little luxury go, and now I'm thinking I should pick up that habit once again. It makes me, my table, my home have that extra special feeling. It's time I picked that habit up again!
rose blooming amidst daisies and chrysanthemums
Growing up, I remember stopping on the way to my Grandparents' house to buy a bouquet of flowers - a hostess gift, a sign of appreciation for their hospitality. I remember my Grandmother lovingly take each stem, placing it 'just so' in a crystal vase for the dinner table. There was something very elegant about it.

It's about relationship, about communication. Taking the time and energy, putting thought and care into arranging items for others to enjoy tells them they are important, special. That is really what it's all about. We automatically think of doing this for special occasions, big events. But what about our weeknight family meal? Or snack time with the kids? Our simple meals would so  much more delicious with some special arrangements placed in the midst, just because.
pumpkins for vases, tealights floating in wheatberries, handpainted placecards
We've been talking flowers here, but it doesn't have to be flowers. What about a collection of seashells, or a grouping of candles, or twigs and moss collected from a walk around the yard. A bowl of fresh fruit or a basket of vegetables, maybe. Let the children help by arranging a few special toys, or stacking some blocks to spell out a message. Mrs. Schaeffer gives many ideas to spark your imagination and creativity.

Edith Scaeffer says:
I believe strongly that the suppressing of hidden artistic talents or appreciation has the effect of warping us as personalities. So I feel that this beautifying of meal tables and trays with hidden artistic  and original ideas is a very simple area indeed in which to start fullilling one's own needs, through the freedom of expression, and adding another dimension to the day.
So, let's get started! Take a moment and look around, add a touch of beauty, a little arrangement to make our homes welcoming, alive, special.

a birthday bouquet delivered to me, from my far-away children

 God's timing is always so perfect. A few weeks ago, a friend at church asked me if I'd be interested in a flower arranging class. She works for a florist, and has been asked by some others if she would take time to teach a little about how to make attractive arrangements. She thought maybe I'd be interested. Boy, would I! Now, she had no idea I was reading this book. She's probably never read this book. But here I am, thinking and planning and looking forward to learning. I'll keep you updated.
I'll be linking this post up over at My Homey Haven.
To read my other posts from this book study, you can go here.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 3/26 to 4/01

It was a big weekend here in my kitchen.
Big Shopping Day
Big Cooking Day

I've been a Once-A-Month-Cooker for almost 20 years now. It takes the stress out of making decisions each day about what to feed my family. Minimizes my time in the kitchen, so I can focus on other things that need my attention like schooling and errands and kids and husband.

Contrary to popular belief, I adopted this approach NOT because I am so organized and so good at being prepared. Rather, because I am quite UNorganized and RARELY prepared. Investing some time and energy prior to the beginning of the month helps me get things in place, so mealtime runs fairly smoothly, even if I'm occupied elsewhere or short on time.

As I worked on Saturday, I was thinking over the most common questions asked of me when it comes to the topic of OAMC (Once A Month Cooking). Here are my answers to two of them:

"What do you fix for supper on Cooking Day?"
One would think, she's been cooking all day long. 30 meals! There must be all kinds of things to serve the family that night! Wrong. I'm inventorying and cooking and packaging and freezing. No way do I want anyone to dip into my beautiful just-the-right-amount-for-one-meal packages. I'm thinking about the month ahead. Not today.
Instead, I put dried black beans (rinsed) in the crockpot first thing that day, cover them with water, set on low and then it's 'Get Your Own' for supper that night. Someone sets out taco-type fixin's and everyone digs in with tortilla chips. Easy, cheap, filling and nutritious. Whatever is leftover, I pop into the freezer for later in the month.

"What about meals like pizza?"
Every Friday night here is pizza/movie/game night. I make up Pizza Paks, pulling together pre-measured ingredients together and packaging them up, using zip-type bags. 
In a gallon-size bag, I put  a 12-16oz pkg of shredded mozzarella and small zip-baggies I've filled with items such as: 1/4 lb thinly sliced sandwich pepperoni, 7 or 8 thinly sliced pieces of ham, a handful of cooked burger or sausage. I also add a quart-sized bag of pizza sauce.
For pizza night,  take out the pizza pak at noon that day, then in the evening we my very capable kitchen helpers mix up the dough in my bosch and have a good time assembling 4 large pizzas, adding fresh veggies, pineapple, black olives, mushrooms, or whatever we have on hand.

And now that the pantry and freezers and frig are fully stocked - it's time to get this week's menu posted:

Monday - Tacos, Pinto Beans, Mexican Rice
Tuesday - Chicken Alfredo, Italian Herb Bread (from bread machine), Salad
Wednesday - Chili, corn bread, carrot sticks
Thursday - Salmon, 3-Bean Salad, corn, whole wheat bread
Friday-Saturday --  Anniversary Weekend Getaway, Kids are on their own! (don't worry, my sweet Caitlin is a wonder in the kitchen, and my trusty Luke is always a happy helper - they'll get a long just fine)

For more inspiration in menu planning, hop on over to and see what other have posted this week on Menu Plan Monday

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